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Setting & Achieving Goals

Seth Godin on Why Winners Quit

What sets successful people apart is the ability to push hard when they’re onto a good thing, to give up when they’re on course to a dead end, and to know the difference between the two.

Monique Verduyn

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Seth Godin

Decide When to Quit

If quitting is going to be a strategic decision that enables you to make smart choices in the marketplace, then you should outline your quitting strategy before the discomfort sets in.

If you are in the middle of the Dip how do you know if it’s worth sticking it out until you make it to the other side?

The worst time to decide is when you’re in the middle of it. That’s my point: you need to decide in advance when you’re going to quit. Before you set out on a journey, figure out how much time and how many resources you’ll need.

You can figure this out by looking at the market, by looking at others, by understanding what it takes. If you don’t have resources enough to get through it, don’t start. But when you’re in pain and you’re stuck, of course you’re going to want to quit. That’s because the pressure is great and the benefits seem far away.

How do you know when it’s time to quit?

It’s time to quit when you’re in a cul-de-sac. It’s time to quit when there’s no asset being built, no progress to measure, no likelihood that today’s effort will increase tomorrow’s opportunity. On the other hand, if you’re meeting people, earning trust, gaining skills … those things indicate that this isn’t a dead end, just a long Dip. And it might be long indeed.

What do you do if you can’t quit?

Other than prison, I’m not sure there are things you can’t quit.

Quitting is not the same as failing. Can you explain why?

Quitting is something we do all the time. We quit sucking our thumb, we quit riding a tricycle, we quit going to school after we graduate. Failing is what happens when you set a goal and don’t reach it. The question on the table is: is succeeding at something beneficial enough to put in the resources it’s going to take to succeed?

If it’s not, quit now, while you have resources to invest in something else. On the other hand, quit too much and you’re a starter, not a finisher. My point is that you should have reachable goals, places you want to go where you will end up being the best in the world at what you do.

How do you determine whether to create a product or service when it’s something new and there is no established market for it?

Virtually all entrepreneurs enter markets where there is in fact a market. That’s human nature and it’s also smart. Competitors make it easier for customers to commit, because it’s an “either or”, not a “whether or not” question. Google didn’t invent search. They just made it work.

The Beatles didn’t invent rock and roll. They just took it to a new level. If you’re trying to do something completely from scratch, I applaud you and then I ask, “why?”

If you make it through the Dip, it’s likely that you’ll be stronger than your less committed competitors. Does this mean that entrepreneurs should look out for opportunities that are worthwhile, yet very demanding?

The Dip is your best friend! If there was no medical school, being a doctor would not be worth much, would it? Find Dips, power through them and then make sure they’re even bigger than when you found them.

How do you quit without sending a negative signal to the market?

I think it’s important to understand my point: if you are willing to quit, you’re actually less likely to quit, and certainly less likely to quit at precisely the wrong moment. You can’t quit in the middle of a project, or when a patient is on the table or when a client is depending on you. You quit when the work is easy and things are working, you don’t quit in the Dip.

How can the ability to quit be empowering?

Once you know you can walk away, you’re empowered to stay and make things better, empowered to see an opportunity, not drudgery.

In your opinion, do people tend to quit too soon, or do they keep trying for too long?

We quit the wrong things too soon, and the other wrong things too late.

Society has brainwashed us to believe we should stick out things involving institutions, so we waste huge amounts of time and money. On the other hand, entrepreneurs quit building their businesses years too soon, and it’s because they didn’t realise what they were signing up for and didn’t set aside enough resources.

Can you give an example of businesses that should have quit but did not and suffered as a result?

Microsoft has already wasted nearly $500 million on the Zune (an entertainment platform and portable media player). The company should have had the guts to quit after $10 million. Think of what they could have bought and developed online with $400 million.

The Best in the World

Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice. Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. In the world as in: their world, the world they have access to.

If you know that you are not going to be the best at something, is it worthwhile learning to do it?

Sure, if it’s enjoyable, sure if it makes your life happier. No, not if you don’t think you’re going to win in the market. Customers aren’t dumb. They buy the “best” when best means the best combination of price and quality and convenience and reputation. If you’re not the best for some customers, then why bother?

Not every plumber can be the best in the world. How does one define/delineate the area that you should be best in? Is it more about striving to do the best that you can, as an individual?

Of course a plumber can be the best in the world! My world. The world outside my house. The world of plumbers I can choose from has perhaps 100 choices, and I want the one who is talented, polite, clean and not stupidly expensive. And willing to come to my house right now.

If you can’t be the best in the world along those lines, you don’t exist as far as I’m concerned.

The Dip: a definition

Almost everything in life worth doing is controlled by the Dip. At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment. Successful people lean into the Dip. They push harder, changing the rules as they go.

The difference between Dips and Cul-de-Sacs

A cul-de-sac is simply a dead end, a situation that never changes. When you find one, get out of it fast. The opportunity cost of investing your life in something that’s not going to get better is just too high. The biggest obstacle to success in life is our inability to quit these curves soon enough.

Why does being number one matter?

Being at the top matters because there’s room at the top for only a few, says Godin. That’s the most important point he makes in The Dip: the Dip is a way of weeding out mediocrity and separating the winners from the losers.

Average is for Losers

The most common response to the Dip is to play it safe. To do ordinary work, blameless work, work that’s beyond reproach. When faced with the Dip most people suck it up and try to average their way to success.

You say that the temptation to be average is just another form of quitting. Why is it so bad to be mediocre?

Average means unnoticed, beyond reproach, easily defended, boring and unworthy of discussion. Companies pay people to be average. Consumers don’t.

Three Questions to Ask Before Quitting

Realising that quitting is worth your focus and consideration, says Seth Godin, is the first step to becoming the best in the world. The next step is to ask three questions:

1. Am I panicking?

Quitting is not the same as panicking. Quitting when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive. The best quitters are the ones who decide in advance when they’re going to quit. When the pressure is greatest to compromise, to drop out, or to settle, your desire to quit should be at its lowest.

2. Who am I trying to influence?

Influencing a market – as opposed to an individual – is more like climbing a hill than scaling a wall. You can make progress one step at a time and it actually gets easier as you go. People in the market talk to each other. They are influenced by each other. So every step of progress you make actually gets amplified.

3. What sort of measurable progress am I making?

There are only three choices: you’re either moving forward, falling behind or standing still. To succeed, you’ve got to make some sort of forward progress, no matter how small.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz

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You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

Decrease the amount of noise in your head.

Nina Zipkin

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Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.

Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

going-for-a-walk

You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold TurkeyFreedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made SimpleCalm and Headspace.

For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

6. Change up what’s in your headphones

headphones

While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.

Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.

Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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